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Earth Day. What will we leave behind to our children?

Marta Kufel

Marta Kufel

Earth Day. What will we leave behind to our children?

Celebrated on 22 April, the Earth Day is a great moment to reflect and think about what we, as humans, do for our planet. It is important for institutions and businesses to do some soul-searching, since their role in environmental protection and shaping the Earths future is immense. Below is a recap of the environmentally concious activities of the Water and Sewerage Company (ZWiK) and a brief guide on what our city’s residents can do to help the environment.

Our ecosystem is extremely fragile. Human activity drains the green planet from its natural resources, and climate change is a real issue, not just a slogan dreamt up by scientists. We are all responsible for the Earth and every one of us must act to save it.

WHAT DOES ZWIK DO?

1. Green power generation

We get power from water, sewage and sun. ZWiK invests in both widely popular technologies, such as PV, and lesser-known solutions like biogas generation through wastewater treatment. Overall, 29% of the electricity consumed by the Company comes from its own plants and installations.

Our solar panels are installed in six locations: Miedwie Water Production Facility, Żelewo Water Intake, Pilchowo Water Production Facility, Warszewo Water Pumping Station, Zdroje Water Pumping Station and on our administrative building. Together, these comprise 10,546 elements with a total area of 17,200 sq. m, roughly that of the roof of Pogoń Szczecins stadium or two and a half football pitches!

The greatest power contributors are the Pomorzany Wastewater Treatment Plants gas generators, with a total output of 4,834 MWh in 2023 (4,289 MWh in 2022). This ensures an energy self-sufficiency of over 55%!

Excellent performance is also provided by the Francis turbine at the PomorzanyWater Production Facility. Only second of its kind in Poland, this cutting-edge solution uses water’s gravitational flow in the pipeline to generate power. Last year, it had an output of almost 750 MWh. Our RES investments have put us in a leading position among Polands waterworks companies in terms of power generation from renewables.

In 2023, our total RES output stood at an impressive 8,911 MWh, yielding tangible environmental and economic benefits.


2. Wastewater Treatment Plants

Since environmental protection and care lie at the core of our mission, our wastewater treatment plants put to maximum use all the primary and secondary components of wastewater treatment processes to generate electric and heating power required for process purposes, and through the thermal treatment of solids, we can obtain raw materials for the production of fertilizers. Not less important is the fact that the water we feed back to the Oder River is actually cleaner than that flowing in it.


3. Focus on water quality

Just to remind you, almost 90 percent of water supplied to Szczecin comes from Miedwie Polands fifth largest lake with an area of 3,800 sq. m. Spanning 16.6 km in length and 3.2 km in width, and running as deep as 43.5 m, it is indeed a large water body. The Water Treatment Plant carries out a range of procedures and processes to makes sure our tap water is top quality. The quality of the water supplied by Szczecins waterworks matches that of bottled water. Our water is subject to constant monitoring. We have a lab near the water intake to perform daily physico-chemical and bacteriological tests of raw water, followed by further testing up until the inspection of clean water quality. Every day, the lab checks 26 parameters, with more than 60 analyses performed monthly.

We are aware of the environmental implications of plastic pollution. We know that plastic containers take many years to decompose, polluting our planet in the process. Choosing multi-use containers not only saves money, but also helps to protect our planet.

Here are some facts to back this up:

  • The  daily water intake of an average adult should be at least 1.5-2 litres.
  • Szczecin has a population of nearly 400,000 (390,300 as at 30 June 2023 according to Statistics Poland data).
  • I takes only a single bottle of water purchased daily by half of the city’s residents to pollute the environment with 4,000 kg of plastic every day! (an empty 0.5 l bottle weighs about 20 g).

“Remember that tap water is the best alternative to bottled water,” said Hanna Pieczyńska, Spokeswoman for Zakład Wodociągów i Kanalizacji Sp. z o.o. w Szczecinie. “Glasses, reusable bottles and other multi-use containers help us curb environmental pollution.”


4. Public awareness campaigns

Szczecin's outdoor events provide an opportunity to meet with residents in person and talk with them about water. We also visit educational institutions to talk with children and young people. How? Where? What? H2O!  – the path covered by Szczecin’s water from the source to the tap – this is one of the slogans and themes of the videos produced as part of the “Drink tap water” project. It aims to foster healthy habits in children and young people, especially when it comes to drinking water from water fountains and tap. Twenty-three schools have been selected to take part in the project, and we have installed forty water fountains. These devices are very convenient, comprising a basin to reduce water spillage. Why educational institutions? Because it is in school that we learn how to relate socially and what attitudes are desirable.

5. Process optimisation

We renovate and upgrade our wastewater treatment plants and Water Production Facilities to optimise ZWiK’s processes and boost efficiency. The outcome is a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective operation.


6. Waste sorting

We sort ourself out first. On all floors, we put labelled waste bins to help our employees segregate waste properly.

WHAT CAN RESIDENTS DO?

  • Sort waste
  • Drink tap water
  • Refrain from using disposable containers, especially plastic bags and bottles
  • Keep the environment clean
  • Take care of greenery
  • Collect rainwater
  • Save water and energy
  • Shop reasonably (no overbuying)
  • Try to repair damaged household appliances, especially electronic devices, instead of buying new ones
  • Avoid buying environmentally harmful products
  • Use more environmentally friendly means of transport or public transport

According to information on the website of the Polish Waterworks Chamber of Commerce, the Earth Day dates back to 1970 and is now celebrated in 192 countries. In Poland, Earth Day celebrations go back to 1990. The Earth Day started out as a grassroots initiative. On 22 April 1970, twenty million Americans ten percent of the US population at the time came out onto the streets to protest against environmental ignorance and demand a new path for the planet.

This day is now considered one of the biggest civic events in the world,said Hanna Pieczyńska. It triggered a wave of changes, including the passing of the at-the-time revolutionary legislation on environmental protection in the US (the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act). What is more, it led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The goal of the Earth Day is to make the public familiar with all issues around contemporary environmental protection, promote clean technologies, support broadly defined education on environmental protection and foster the concept of sustainable development. It also provides a great opportunity to bring to public awareness the threats faced by our planet and initiate discussion on the relationship between environmental protection and human health and life.

 

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